Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Cars I've Loved and Left - Part III

[Links to Parts I and II]

After I married I got rid of the Datsun convertible and got a staid hand-me-down from #1, another Chevy.  I couldn't remember a Chevy What for the longest, but all the sudden 'Caprice' popped into my brain.  I remembered all along that it only got 8 miles to the gallon. 

1973 Chevy Caprice - but mine was blue, not gold, with a 'leather' roof

I'd left university and worked full time for a while by then, but started back to night school to finish my degree.  It was now a 60 mile round trip to school.  My mechanic by then was J.C. Bannister, the most honest mechanic I've ever encountered - besides Eddie, of course.  Loads of people had stories about the time they pulled into the Bannister garage and J.C. fixed some twiddly little problem like a disconnected hose - with no charge.  I remember his degree in mechanical engineering hung on the office wall and you couldn't meet a nicer man.  He fixed my car for me until one day he told me it wasn't worth fixing anymore, bless him.  J.C.'s garage is still there, I believe, but his was an untimely death a long time ago.  I gather the business is still there, but I've no idea who owns or runs it, so I couldn't make any recommendation one way or the other for the present staff. 

Husband #1 now had a job 50-miles away in a small town with a medium-security prison (he was a case manager).  Given the drudgery of the drive, he decided to buy himself a new car.  Another financial lesson I learned:  don't buy a new car (everyone knows about the depreciation) and then put on so many miles that it loses its value faster than you can pay it off.  Need I mention considering the price of gas?  I did offer to move half way between his job and mine, but he didn't like that idea.  Turns out he was already thinking about divorce.

Anyhow, with him having a new car I got his hand-me-down, a burgundy coloured 1978 Mercury Marquis, with air conditioning and electric push-button windows.  This was fun, except that the first summer I drove it the electrics quit working.  Even though work was only a mile each way (through a pretty scary area, I might add) I would be ill with the heat driving home.  I decided within a couple of weeks that no air - fresh or conditioned - was intolerable. 

Since #1 had treated himself to a new car (another Mercury, only this one had velvet upholstery - I ask you), I decided I would have one, too.  I bought a car I'd been in love with ever since I saw them, a little cream coloured boxy looking thing with baby blue suedette interior.  Colours of cars are important to a girl, you know.  I'd never own a green car, but I can't tell you why.

I really loved this car, a 1983 demonstrator model Mazda GLC with a standard transmission, another stick shift.  People in the UK assume that all Americans drive automatics; they barely believe me when I say I had a number of standard transmission cars.  It was about 25 years later when I accidently discovered GLC stood for 'Great Little Car': the truth in advertising, for once.  

It's the only new car I've ever owned; very likely the only one I ever will.  I paid it off early and never fell out of love with it.  I kept it for 11 years, though once we moved to Salt Lake City the hampsters that lived in the engine had a hard time pedalling in the mountains there.  Husband #2 traded in his bought-new-in-OKC pick-up truck for another bigger one with 4-wheel drive in SLC, also new.  These purchases were made without consultation, but since we kept our money separate, I just shook my head.  I still loved my GLC and I loved not having car payments.  

When it turned out I was moving to England for a while, I sold the car to my hairdresser for $500 with the warning that it would soon need a new transmission.   I went back a couple of years later and, while I was in town, got in touch with her for a hair cut.  Her husband was still driving my GLC, so they must have loved it, too.

Did you ever have a car that you kept until they pried the steering wheel out of your hands?


nives56 said...

1963 Rambler Classic. I got two of them, loved them both. Talk about hamsters in the engine compartment, though...very small hamsters.

Rick Stone said...

2002 Red Chrysler PT Crusier. Bought it new in February 2002 and drove it for two years. Jo took it over at that point and drove it until December 2010. Between us that car was in four major accidents. We were harder on that car than any either of us ever owned. Last accident was in December 2010 and it was totaled out. Replaced it with a brand new 2010 Red Chrysler PT Cruiser. Since the two are almost identical the neighbors don't even realize that Jo is driving a new car.